Sun, Mar 02, 2003
NASA Chief Refuses To Reassign Dittemore, Others
One day after the head of the board investigating
the shuttle Columbia's demise asked that several NASA workers be
removed from the probe, NASA Administrator Sean O'Keefe late Friday
denied the request.
Conflict Of Interest?
Adm. Harold Gehman (USN, ret.) had asked that Shuttle Program
Director Ron Dittemore and others be reassigned because they were,
in essence, investigating themselves. But in an almost immediate
reply, O'Keefe (right) refused to make the transfers.
"Despite your assurances that no conclusions have been made
arising from the facts of the investigation at this time, simply
reassigning personnel will not accomplish your stated goal,"
according to the letter, posted Saturday on the board's Web site.
"I am convinced that this course of action will be viewed as
prejudging the facts before the investigation is complete."
But There Will Be Changes
O'Keefe, however, did pledge changes designed to ensure NASA
works better with the investigating board, and that those efforts
would be led by professionals from outside the shuttle program
Columbia disintegrated Feb. 1, as it re-entered the Earth's
atmosphere after a 16-day mission.
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